Good preparation is the key to successful implementation of the online store

The three areas where digitisation projects get stuck most often are the following:
  • poor planning and misunderstanding of the complexity of projects;
  • teams have a lack of knowledge for successful implementation;
  • the wrong technology is selected according to the specific needs and problems the company wants to solve.

To begin with, each company has to do its own "homework" and analyse what it needs and structure what it wants before bidding. Don't rely on a sounding sales slogan, or rely solely on the recommendations of acquaintances, but look at what's consistent with your business strategy, back-end processes, employee competencies and existing information systems.

Planning: Plot a purchase route

It may sound paradoxical, but if we take enough time to prepare well, then the implementation of the project is much faster and more efficient. The fragmentation of the project into phases allows for greater focus, which is elsewhere at each stage.

Preparing for the launch of the new ecommerce platform usually takes 1-2 months. At this stage we analyse and make key decisions regarding the selection of technology, team design and architecture of the solution. This allows us to identify the necessary functionalities and basic integrations between systems that can quickly be brought to life as MVP. In the coming months we then embark on more complex implementation of additional functionality with high added value, advanced analytics, automation ... in the final phase we optimize all back-end processes, improve user experience and launch solutions in additional markets or product lines.

Planning and successful start are also influenced by business model issues (B2C, B2B...). During the planning phase, it is especially important to draw the entire purchase route: an inventory of all contact points by identifying the needs and data that the buyer needs at each point. This will serve the basis for assessing what technology we need to serve the customer the right information on this purchase route (e.g. what we need to show the customer on the website the right information that they are interested in).

On this basis, we write down the technological requirements in stages, because we cannot launch all the functionalities at once, and we translate this into specifications. At the moment, it is also necessary to indicate which back-end systems (ERP, PIM, where we will obtain images and product descriptions, etc.) as the new solution must be associated with them.

The key document that underpins the selection of the solution is RFP - a "request for proposal" to invite e-commerce solutions providers to the presentation. RFP is a "technological brif" and will base that presentations from potential providers will not be generic, but can immediately show how their technology can work for you.

Each technology has its limitations, so gaps must be identified and restrictions defined during the planning phase. The last part of the planning is to plot the architecture of the solution and the composition of a multidisciplinary team that will bring the project to life. In the design of the team, we must not forget the back-end processes: sending, returning, accounting, etc. and inviting the persons responsible for these processes to participate.

What happens if we skip planning and preparation - an example of a lack of understanding of the limitations of THE ERA price policy

With a lack of technical knowledge, it may be that the renovation of the online store can first be undertaked with design. For example, a UX designer can imagine that an important element of the user experience is a display of a reduced price and a percentage reduction. But in the hinterland, this means a lot of processes: when the price changes, new prices must be imported into the ERP, transfer them via the interface to the e-commerce system, ensure that the online store always shows the current price ... You may not be able to get information from the ERP about the previous price and automatically calculate the percentage of the reduction.

At the design stage, we often forget that every proposed solution requires that data be stored somewhere and that we have to obtain it from somewhere - it often gets stuck in little things, with data that we need to pump between systems. To avoid this, when plotting the purchase route (already in the planning phase), try to understand what it means to show the current stock, where we store the data, etc. This is how the cutter gets a clean picture and shortens the developmental path. So first, it takes a way to map users' paths, followed by mapping data, and then wired models and user experience design come in.

Information requiring special attention:

  • Inventory
  • prices (pricing policy) - e.g. detection of discounts
  • categorisation - e.g. "clothing, children's footwear" - e.g. where we get information, which category belongs to a particular product, which can be a key element of UX
  • attributes enabling data filtration (color, size, type...)
  • images (but we have them, in what form, are of sufficient quality, how we will pump them into the system)
  • product affinity (e.g. for recommendations: cross-sell, up-sell, "buy well" - that these recommendations, when automated, actually make sense)